ʻĀina (land) as a leader: A scoping review of contemporary native Hawaiian literature


Culture frames individual and community well-being. Among Kānaka ʻŌiwi, or the Native people of Hawaiʻi, ʻāina (land) is a significant pillar of culture and community. Like other Indigenous peoples, Kānaka share a profound connection with ʻāina. With the root word ʻai (to eat), ʻāina directly translates to that which feeds. Throughout this paper, ʻāina encompasses land, ocean, water, sky, and natural resources – primary sources of nourishment, healing, learning, and identity for all Kānaka. ʻĀina and leadership are interconnected in Native Hawaiian worldview, but the complexity of this relationship is not clearly defined in existing literature. Thus, this scoping review explored the ways ʻāina exemplifies leadership. Five themes emerged, with implications for Kānaka well-being. ʻĀina as elder, healer, educator, and role model embodies leadership. Together, these themes indicate that Kānaka well-being is interdependent with ʻāina leadership. For community psychologists working on a global scale, it will be important for ʻāina leadership to be recognized in social justice initiatives with Kānaka ʻŌiwi, and potentially with other Indigenous and Pacific peoples.


DOI Code: 10.1285/i24212113v9i2p37

Keywords: ʻāina/land, Indigenous well-being, Native Hawaiian leadership, literature review


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